Photographer Brian Skerry calls his new National Geographic book, “Ocean Soul,” a love story – and he clearly means it. Seeing his photographs and listening to him speak, it’s obvious how deeply he cares about the oceans and their condition.
At a sold-out National Geographic Live event in DC last night to officially mark the book’s publication, Skerry showed photographs from around the world and shared some of his experiences working for National Geographic documenting some of the 98% of the world’s biomass that lives in the oceans.
And experiences he has certainly had, from living on the seafloor for seven days straight to being the first photojournalist allowed on a Canadian seal hunting boat in over a decade.
And even more striking was Skerry’s clear enthusiasm for the oceans and all the life they contain. He talked about ocean photography as peeling back layers of mystery. Surrounded by chaos, he said, his solution is to “focus on individual behavior” while striving to be an “artistic interpreter of all I see.”
Part of that interpretation is to tell a more complete story by showing not only the beauty of the oceans, but also the troubles they face. Photographing bluefin tuna, Skerry said his goal was to foster “wildlife appreciation” rather than just document seafood. About overfishing, he said, “The ocean’s not a grocery store, we can’t continue to take without expecting consequences.”
During the talk, Skerry showed photographs he has taken of harp seals, lemon sharks, right whales, leatherback sea turtles, and humboldt squid, in addition to reef fish, shrim, and tunicates.
He ended with images taken in marine reserves, where he said his goal is to show the abundance, diversity and resilience of the oceans when they are protected. “At every level, it seemed to be in harmony,” he said of one such area.
Last Thursday Oceana board member Ted Danson was the featured guest on WAMU’s The Diane Rehm Show. He covers a lot of ground in the hour, including overfishing, seafood fraud, aquaculture and bottom trawling.
He explains to Diane,
“…It's one of those amazing potential worldwide disasters that does not have to happen. It's a great story. Hey, how did -- hey, grandma and grandpa, what did you do when you found out that we were fishing out our oceans? To be able to turn around and say, well, this is what I did and this is why we still have fish. That's an exciting thing. We should not be overwhelmed by this. We should educate ourselves. We should let science lead the way and then you pass laws to change policy and you enforce those laws.”
Have a listen and don’t forget to check out Ted’s new book, “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them.”
Also in this issue is a Q&A with author Mark Kurlansky, whose 1997 international bestseller Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World is a seminal work of non-fiction about overfishing.
I spoke to him about his new book, The World Without Fish: How Kids Can Help Save the Oceans, which explains the current crisis in the oceans in easy-to-digest language and graphics, and outlines how kids can help.
What inspired you to write The World Without Fish?
MK: I’ve been writing about fish for many years. I talk to kids about it a lot and I noticed a few things. They are tremendously interested, partly because kids just really like fish. We’re raising a generation with a great sense of environmental urgency; they want to know about these things. It’s a very complicated thing, much more complicated than it’s often presented. Consequently, kids are perplexed about what’s going on. So I thought I would explain it.
Has your daughter read the book? Is she interested in ocean issues?
MK: Yes, she has. It’s a very ambitious book for kids, and I wanted to know about anything she found difficult or hard to understand. She’s really into it. She’s my fishing buddy. We spend our summers in Gloucester fishing for striper.
What do you hope kids (and adults) take from your book?
I’d like them to appreciate the complexity of the issue to understand that it’s not that people aren’t doing anything -- a lot’s being done, but they’re still struggling to figure out what works. I wouldn’t mind them coming away with a little respect for fishermen and their struggles with the issue. This all can be turned around and if it isn’t, it will be a huge disaster.
In his new book, “The Voice of the Dolphins” ocean conservationist, filmmaker and Oceana supporter Hardy Jones reflects on his decades of work to protect dolphins and whales around the world, from killer whales in Norway’s fjords to sperm whales off the Galapagos Islands.
In addition to fighting dolphin hunting in Japan, Jones writes of his more recent work to stop one of the greatest threats to dolphins and humans: the rising level of contaminants, such as mercury and PCBs, in the ocean food chain.
The issue hit close to home with Jones when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2003, a form of blood cancer associated with chemical toxins. Blood tests revealed that he had highly elevated levels of chemicals such as DDT and flame retardants in his blood and tissues—the same chemicals found in ever-greater concentrations throughout dolphin populations around the world.
Well folks, our favorite author and ocean advocate Ted Danson is everywhere these days. Today, a video for you in which Ted tries to teach some kids about the problems plaguing the oceans, with soporific effects. It’s entertaining, check it out:
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Pick up a copy of Ted’s fantastic new book, “Oceana:Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them,” if you haven’t already! (It’s for fish nerds and non-fish nerds alike; we promise it’ll keep you awake.)
Oceana board member and actor Ted Danson’s new book, “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them,” hits the streets today. Here’s Ted on the Today Show this morning talking about the book:
I’ve been involved in ocean conservation for decades, and in that time, a lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same. Last year I decided it was time to write it all down before I get too old to tell the difference.
With the talented Michael D’Orso as my co-author, I wrote “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them,” and it hits the street on March 15. We set out to write a book that describes -- in an entertaining and informative way -- the most critical threats to the oceans, and how we can turn them around. I think we did a pretty darn good job, if I do say so myself. I thought you might like a preview.
The book opens with a chapter on the issue that propelled me into ocean conservation -- offshore drilling. I joined a local protest in the mid-1980s to oppose offshore oil drilling near my Southern California neighborhood. Fast forward to 2010, when I testified before Congress on the dangers of expanded offshore drilling. Like I said, things change, but they remain the same.
The new issue of the Oceana magazine features a Q&A with author Paul Greenberg, whose book Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, has won praise from conservationists and foodies alike. Greenberg also wrote several guest blogs posts for us in the fall. Needless to say, we are big fans. You'll see why:
Why salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna?
Salmon, usually farmed Atlantic salmon, is like the corn of the sea, grown on every continent now, save Antarctica, even though it historically never lived south of the equator.
Sea bass, that catch-all name that describes so many fish, has become the market niche of the white, meaty fish. The name "bass" itself is a cover for a troubling fish swapping game where we progressively replace depleted species with new ones and give them the same name so that consumers don't notice the swap.
Similarly, cod represents an even more massive example of fish swapping. Only with cod, you're talking about the swapping of literally billions of pounds of fish for a whole array of both farmed and wild fish that fill a similar flesh niche.
Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless is counted among the notable ocean conservationists -- including Carl Safina, Sylvia Earle and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. -- in SEA VOICES, a coffee table book by Duffy Healey and Elizabeth Laul Healey. The couple has been involved in saving the oceans for decades, and they recently posted an excerpt of the book’s interview with Andy on their website.
Here’s an excerpt from the Q&A about krill, a topic near and dear to Andy’s heart.
Q. Krill is very important to the overall food chain of the ocean. Can you briefly explain what krill is, why it’s so important, and what Oceana and others are doing to help protect krill?
A. Krill are small, shrimp-like crustaceans. There are 85 species of krill, and they are present in all of the world’s oceans, and are particularly abundant in the Southern Ocean. Krill have light emitting organs called ‘photophores’ that make them glow in the dark; swarms of krill at night or in the dark ocean depths make impressive swirling light displays. The largest krill, the Antarctic krill, is thought to live up to 11 years old. Ocean wildlife eats between 150 and 300 million metric tons of krill each year.
The following guest blog from journalist and ocean activist David Helvarg is an excerpt from his latest book, “Saved by the Sea - A Love Story with Fish”
Recently I flew from California to Washington to ride on one of the Coast Guard's big icebreakers heading north. As I looked down at the snowcapped northern California mountain ranges they reminded me of great white-capped ocean waves.
Actually they're not unlike waves in geological terms, bridging up across the landscape, surfing the magma where the Pacific and North American tectonic plates collide and subside beneath them. Mountains are the rippling breakers of the planet, though functioning in a timeframe that make our species seem as transitory as mayflies or molecules. Only evolutionarily hardened marine life such as horseshoe crabs and Nautilus have been around long enough to see mountain ranges rise up and erode away again.